Naresh Kumar Is Teaming Up With Anyone and Everyone to Complete A Transcontinental Tandem Ride

Endurance athlete Naresh Kumar isn’t one to sit still in the face of a problem.

In 2014, while Kumar was in Nepal preparing to hike the Annapurna Circuit, he was confronted with the bleak reality of human trafficking when a man casually offered to sell him sex with young girls.

Since then, he’s devoted himself to raising awareness of modern slavery and fighting for its millions of victims globally.

His weapon of choice: A tandem bicycle he calls “Kindness”.

Starting in 2017, he has been cycling for tens of thousands of miles on his two-seater bicycle in a project he calls Freedom Seat, inviting strangers he meets along the way to share the ride.

His last ride – a 5,282-mile trek from his native India to Germany — produced an award-winning film and raised more than $15,000 for the anti-trafficking cause.

Kumar with a boy riding on the back of his tandem bicycle

On May 19 2024, Kumar set off on his latest trip, a west-to-east traverse of the United States that will cover more than 3,500 miles.

He’s documenting his trip on Instagram and via his site, where you can track his progress in real time. There'll be plenty of Insta360 footage in there too, with Insta360 X4 accompanying Kumar through every mile, capturing his incredible journey.

We caught up with Kumar before he started the trip to get his take on the significance and challenges (not least being apart from his pregnant wife) of his latest adventure.

Freedom Seat from Linus Herbig-Matten on Vimeo.

What made you choose the U.S. for this round of Freedom Seat?

This is the third iteration of Freedom Seat. The first one was the length of New Zealand in 2017, and the second, in 2019, was an intercontinental expedition from India to Germany that crossed 14 countries and two continents.

Riding across the U.S. now is crucial because human trafficking remains a significant issue here, affecting thousands of people every year. I will be raising funds for Rotary Action Group Against Slavery (RAGAS) and the 3Strands Foundation to combat trafficking. Increased public awareness can lead to stronger policies and better enforcement against traffickers. This journey isn't just about the miles; it's about making a tangible impact on a problem that urgently needs our attention.

Kumar sitting on top of a mountain, sipping a drink, with his bike and bag on the floor

You’ve been fighting for freedom for what will soon be a decade. Are you seeing any shifts in the problem? What should people know about the state of human trafficking in 2024?

Freedom is the highest form of living. My motivation comes from a deep sense of justice and a desire to give a voice to those who are often unheard. We are seeing some shifts in the problem of human trafficking in 2024, largely influenced by global events and immigration challenges. With over 110 million people forcibly displaced worldwide, many are vulnerable to traffickers during their migration journeys. The United States, as a major destination, sees numerous individuals seeking refuge, often falling prey to dishonest labor recruiters and traffickers.

Today, awareness is higher, and there's a growing recognition of the need for comprehensive, inclusive approaches to combat trafficking. Effective anti-trafficking efforts must include reforms in immigration policy, stronger community support, and protection for all survivors. Public education and involvement in advocacy are crucial to drive meaningful changes and prevent further exploitation. People should know that human trafficking affects every country, including the U.S., and it’s crucial to stay informed, support survivors, and advocate for stronger policies.

Kumar and a participant with his tandem bike

Do you have any concerns or anxieties with your upcoming trip? What have you been doing to prepare for the trip?

I have concerns, especially about safety and being away from my pregnant wife. Previous journeys have taught me to be prepared for unpredictable weather, mechanical issues, and the physical toll of long rides. I’ve been training hard, planning my route meticulously, and making sure I have the gear and support to handle whatever comes up.

My India-Germany ride was tough, especially with securing visas and crossing borders. Language and cultural differences were big hurdles, but I don't expect those on this expedition across the U.S. Instead, I'll be facing challenges from the elements and terrain. It's going to be a tough ride, but I'm ready for it.

What do you hope will be the outcome of this trip?

My goal is to raise $250,000. I hope to raise significant awareness and funds to combat human trafficking, inspire others to get involved in this cause, and foster meaningful connections with the people I meet along the way. What does it take to see a world without slavery? All of us.

Personally, I want to complete this journey safely and return home in time for the birth of my child.

A group of men with Kumar's tandem bike.

You’ve talked to hundreds of (one-time) strangers on your travels. Have you learned anything from them that surprised you? What is the secret to striking up a good conversation with someone you’ve just met?

I've learned that people are incredibly kind and open to sharing their stories if you approach them with genuine curiosity and respect. Vulnerability really is the key to human connection. It's surprising how much we all have in common, no matter our backgrounds. When you strip away the surface differences, you find that we share many of the same hopes, fears, and dreams.

The secret to a good conversation is simple: listen actively, show interest in their experiences, and be open about your own journey. This mutual exchange can lead to some truly deep and meaningful interactions. By genuinely engaging with others and being willing to share your own vulnerabilities, you create a space where real connections can happen. It's in these moments that you can find common ground, learn something new, and sometimes even make lifelong friends.

Two men with Kumar's tandem bike.

What parts of the ride are you most looking forward to? Least?

I'm really looking forward to riding the transcontinental U.S. because it offers such a diverse range of landscapes and experiences. I'm excited to see the rugged beauty of the Rockies, the wide-open spaces of the Midwest and the stunning scenery of the Appalachian Mountains. I'm also looking forward to meeting people in the small towns along the way, hearing their stories, and sharing my mission with them.

On the flip side, the parts I'm least looking forward to are the long, isolated stretches where the road seems to go on forever and the weather can be unpredictable. Those areas can be mentally and physically challenging. The steep climbs in the Rockies and the potential for tough headwinds in the plains are also daunting. But I know these challenges are all part of the adventure and will make reaching the finish line even more rewarding.

Kumar sitting in front of his tandem bike.

Now about five years removed from your epic trip from India to Germany, what are the experiences or interactions that have stayed with you most from that trip?

The interactions that have stayed with me the most are the moments of kindness from strangers—those who offered me a meal, a place to stay, or simply a friendly conversation.

Learning from the generosity of those who have little is a powerful reminder of what truly matters in life. They teach us that kindness and looking out for one another are the cornerstones of a meaningful existence. So, if you have the choice to become anything in this world, why not choose to be kind? It's the coolest thing you can be, and it makes life a whole lot better for everyone.

I also cherish the times when I saw firsthand the impact of our advocacy work, meeting survivors and seeing the hope and resilience in their eyes. Those experiences continue to fuel my passion for this cause.

A group of children around Kumar's tandem bike.

In addition to putting in long miles, you do an impressive job documenting your travels. Can you please share a little about the process and tools you use to capture your trip?

Documenting my travels is a huge part of the adventure for me, and I've found that Insta360 cameras are invaluable tools for capturing those moments in a truly immersive way. The power and potential of the Insta360 X4 to capture videos in 360 adds a whole new dimension to storytelling, allowing viewers to feel like they're right there with me on the journey.

One of the things I love most about the X4 is how easy it is to use. The intuitive controls and smart framing feature make it a breeze to capture stunning shots, even in the midst of a long ride. And when it comes to editing, the Insta360 app makes it quick and simple to put together a polished video that I can share with the world.

Whether I'm riding through majestic mountains or rolling through quaint small towns, the Insta360 helps me tell my story in a way that's engaging and meaningful. It's become an essential part of my travel kit, and I can't wait to see where it takes me next.

Some of the footage from my Insta360 was used for my documentary on my ride from India-Germany and the film went on to win several prestigious outdoor film festival awards around the world.

Kumar with two men standing next to his tandem bike.

Do you have any tips for cyclists looking to improve their 360 camera game and capture great footage of their rides?

Carry extra batteries. When you are on a human-powered, multi-day adventure, you may not get a chance to stop and charge the camera battery. Having multiple batteries and a charging hub goes a long way. Carry a tripod mount even if you carry the selfie stick so that you can let the camera do the magic while you completely stay present and alive in the moment.

Also, editing is key. The beauty of 360 cameras is their ability to capture everything around you, so learn all that there is to learn on framing and editing your video so that the viewers will get the feeling that they were right there with you.

Kumar at the waterfront with his tandem bike

What should readers do if they want to support your cause?

If you're feeling inspired to support my cause or even ride alongside me on the tandem, there are a couple of meaningful ways you can get involved! First off, you can keep track of my journey through the live tracker, which updates every 5 minutes. If you happen to be nearby, don't hesitate to join me for a stretch of the ride – your company would be greatly appreciated! After you return home, you can be an advocate for the cause and help fundraise.

However, if you're unable to join in person, you can still play a vital role by visiting my page at There, you'll find an opportunity to contribute to the cause through donations. Every single contribution, no matter the size, helps us combat trafficking and make a positive impact on the lives of those affected. Your support truly makes a difference, providing crucial resources for survivors and aiding in the prevention of future exploitation.

So, whether you're riding alongside me or offering your support from afar, please know that your involvement is deeply valued and greatly appreciated. Thank you for being an integral part of this important mission to create a world free from trafficking and injustice!

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WRITTEN BY @Insta360
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